Because I Tell a Joke or Two: Comedy, Politics and Social by Stephen Wagg

By Stephen Wagg

Simply because I inform a funny story or explores the complicated courting among comedy and the social modifications of sophistication, zone, age, gender, sexuality, ethnicity and nationhood. It indicates how comedy has been used to maintain, problem and to alter strength relationships in society. The members, who comprise Stephen Wagg, Mark Simpson, Stephen Small, Paul Wells and Frances Williams, supply readings of comedy genres, texts and performers in Britain, the U.S. and Australia. the gathering additionally comprises an interview with the comic Jo model. subject matters addressed comprise: * girls in British comedies comparable to Butterflies and Fawlty Towers * the lifestyles and instances of Viz, from Billy the Fish to the fats Slags * queer readings of Morecambe and clever, the male double act * the Marx brothers and Jewish comedy within the usa * black radical comedy in Britain * The Golden ladies, Cheers, pals and American society.

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Additional info for Because I Tell a Joke or Two: Comedy, Politics and Social Difference

Sample text

Here, it was argued, now lived a section of the ex-working class made prosperous by the Thatcher reforms. They were, in the main, self-employed manual workers—plumbers, plasterers, bricklayers—and their materialism and conservative views, reflected in the rash of young right wing Tory MPs returned in Essex constituencies, was thought to be the base for successive Thatcher election victories. At a time when people were increasingly being classed according to their role in consumption (dress, favourite bands and 22 STEPHEN WAGG so on) rather than in production (their job), this social group was widely seen as approaching the pinnacle of cultural crassness: they read the monosyllabic Sun newspaper, they watched satellite TV, they spoke ‘Estuary English’, and so on.

In the longrunning Bless This House (Thames, 1971–6) the travelling salesman of yore, played inevitably by Sid 18 STEPHEN WAGG James, encounters domestic resistance from a strong wife and from modernity, as represented by his teenage son and daughter. Through the heated transactions he has with his children over their boyfriends and girlfriends, he is taught that fun is now not only for sales reps to sample in the boarding houses of life. In The Cuckoo Waltz (Granada, 1975–80) sexual morality and class are run together: Gavin, rich, flamboyant and prone to talk of sexual liberation moves in with young married Chris and Fliss when his own marriage breaks up; despite repeated attempts, though, he never gets the beautiful Fliss into bed.

A cluster of other situation comedies of the period have similarly postmodern elements: in Dear Ernest (Central, 1982), the central character goes to Heaven; in Blackadder (BBC, 1983–90), Chelmsford 123 (Channel Four, 1988, 1990) and Maid Marian and her Merry Men (BBC, 1989–93) historical characters talk in late twentieth century idiom. The leading part SOCIAL CLASS AND THE SITUATION COMEDY IN BRITISH TELEVISION 25 in So Haunt Me is a ghost; Red Dwarf (BBC 1988–93) takes place on a timetravelling space ship; a TV repair man in Goodnight Sweetheart (BBC, 1993–) every week escapes his demanding wife and takes shelter in the 1940s; and Comrade Dad (BBC, 1986), A Small Problem (BBC, 1987) and Snakes and Ladders (Channel Four, 1989) are all set in the future.

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